“A great day for ŠKODA! This is another confirmation that the team’s hard work is paying off. Our new Fabia R5 once again ran perfectly for the full 320 kilometres of special stage at the fastest rally of the year,” said Michal Hrabánek. The ŠKODA Motorsport Director saved particular praise for the two driver/co-driver pairings: “At the Rally Finland, you need to drive skilfully and show courage and nerves of steel. Esappekka Lappi/Janne Ferm and Pontus Tidemand/Emil Axelsson once again showed their class. Top spot in the WRC 2 table gives us another boost of motivation ahead of the coming rallies.”
The 25 points for their success in Finland have catapulted Esapekka Lappi to first place in the Drivers’ Championship – although ŠKODA has only contested half of the eight rounds of the WRC season so far. Lappi now leads with 70 points, followed by his compatriot Jari Ketomaa (67). In third place is the second ŠKODA driver, Pontus Tidemand (61). “It is obviously awesome to lead the WRC 2 standings. Above all, however, I am delighted to win my home rally. It is really special to win this WRC classic in front of so many fans. We drove perfectly, had perfect pace notes and a perfect car. I would like to thank the entire ŠKODA team,” said an overjoyed Lappi.
The 24-year-old was the outstanding driver in a dominant Fabia R5. On his way to victory he twice won the iconic Ouninpohja stage, which, with more than 70 jumps, is seen as the ultimate test of courage in the world of rallying. Clocking an average speed of 127.13 kilometres per hour, Lappi emphatically proved why the Rally Finland is also known as “Formula One in the Forest”. The ŠKODA Fabia R5 won 17 of the 20 special stages, making it the clear number one in the WRC 2 competition.
“Top speed all the way, lots of jumps, thousands of fans at every stage – the Rally Finland is a real highlight in the rallying calendar. Luckily for us, the Fabia R5 is the perfect car,” said Tidemand. “Second place was the best result we could have hoped for here. Congratulations to Esapekka and Janne.” Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm will be chasing more victories and FIA World Rally Championship titles in two and a half weeks. The Rally Germany from 21st to 23rd August is the next challenge, and the second ŠKODA works team will be represented by Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ).
Pontus Tidemand and Emil Axelsson are returning to the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), and will be competing in Malaysia in two weeks’ time. With two victories and one second-place finish already, the ŠKODA works drivers have a commanding lead in the overall APRC standings.
Number of the day for the Rally Finland: 7
Seven podiums from just four starts in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2) – that is the impressive record achieved by ŠKODA with the new Fabia R5. The car’s debut at the Rally Portugal ended with second and third place for Esapekka Lappi and Pontus Tidemand. The third works driver, Jan Kopecký (CZ) then finished third to claim his spot on the podium at the Rally Italy. This was followed by a one-two for Lappi and Tidemand in Poland, and now a repeat of that result in Finland.
Rally Finland – WRC 2 Result
1. Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA Fabia R5; 2:40:15.0 hrs
2. Tidemand/Axelsson (S/S), ŠKODA Fabia R5; + 1:41.0 min
3. Lefebvre/Prevot (F/B), Citroën DS3 RRC; + 3:31.5 min
4. Protasov/Cherepin (UA/UA), Ford Fiesta S2000; + 4:58.3 min
5. Pedder/Moscatt (AUS/AUS), Ford Fiesta R5; + 6:45.6 min
FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Event / Date
Rally Monte Carlo: 22.01.–25.01.2015
Rally Sweden: 12.02.–15.02.2015
Rally Mexico: 05.03.–08.03.2015
Rally Argentina: 23.04.–26.04.2015
Rally Portugal: 21.05.–24.05.2015
Rally Italy: 11.06.–14.06.2015
Rally Poland: 02.07.–05.07.2015
Rally Finland: 30.07.–02.08.2015
Rally Germany: 20.08.–23.08.2015
Rally Australia: 10.09.–13.09.2015
Rally France: 01.10.–04.10.2015
Rally Spain: 22.10.–25.10.2015
Rally Great Britain: 12.11.–15.11.2015